The Order of Things
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply.
Author's Notes: Reference to Jaime burning Cersei's letter in AFFC and his contrasting treatment of Brienne in ADWD. Such a shipper. Next up: King's Landing (and they'll be finally together again!).
Chapter inspired by Bon Iver's Re:Stacks.
This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization
It's the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
Your love will be
Safe with me
Reviews are love. Cross posted at AO3 and updated much faster.
Chapter Seven: Old and new
He left the Riverlands the same day the wench left for the Vale. Perhaps it was pride or something similar—I wouldn't call her, she can go bat her eyelashes at the gay Baratheon for all I damn care—that made him angrier and more irritable. He went back to the capital, Catelyn sent him to work on auditing some company Petyr Baelish set up, engrossed himself with his new task, it was a little tricky but nothing compared to what he and that giant woman had to work on in Harrenhal. He could do it, he had been doing it all his life, this, being this alone.
He had to admit his heart did race at the sudden ringing of his phone, thinking it was the wench who finally came to her senses realizing she should not have crossed him, they were good together besides. Together, it somehow tasted good in his mouth. Though the good taste turned into something stale when he noted the name on his phone. It was not supposed to be like this, he had been living only for Cersei, his stepsister, his lover, hadn't he?
"Jaime." Her tone was the harshest he had ever known.
"My sweet sister."
Cersei had never come to him, he was always the one who needed to cross the distance between them, to meet her where she is, it had never been a relationship of equals (he now saw) and though the staleness in his mouth did not leave and only intensified, he walked the threshold to reach her, her in her red dress and golden hair, cruel eyes alit in the low light and he felt the sudden surge of painful desire flow through him. Perhaps he had been without Cersei for too long, was what he thought when an image of Brienne, big and flushing came to mind. It had only ever been Cersei, Cersei and her insatiableness and he closed his mind to all other thoughts and tried to focus on all memories of Cersei and Cersei alone—the hum of his body meeting hers, the darkening of her eyes, the sensations of skin against skin. Cersei's voice interrupted his thoughts just as they turned the green to blue, an expanse of freckled skin under his palms and the smell of innocence and honor and of her. Brienne.
His eyes met hers and he could see the want in her eyes. "Sweet sister."
"You didn't call."
"You didn't." He turned the taste in his mouth and found the words inside his mind were bile. Should it always have to be her?
She stripped off her red dress, never leaving the space she was standing, never letting a limb or a finger leave the circle she had made around herself. If he wanted her he would have to reach her. The image of her body, lithe and wanton, breasts heavy and heaving, urged his feet on, a hand reaching out to pull her into him, skin flushed against his own clothed self and he heard her moan. His mouth found her neck and latched itself to the pulsing skin, perfumed and sweet, his hands settling on the small of her back, urging her closer, closer still, wanting to savor and prolong the feel of her in his arms until she pushed him slightly and made a noise of annoyance and impatience.
"I need you to help me with something." She slipped a hand between then and began unbuttoning his trousers, hands touching the hardness in his pants. He looked at her then, her words in his head and he could see all possible ways of how this would end. The desire in him was telling him to continue with it, thrust into her and get the release he had been seeking and wanting for half a year. Brienne. But something in him, perhaps that weariness at being this, just this, to Cersei was screaming at him to stop being such a fool.
"I need to get some files for the Redwynes."
Ah. He had worked on the Redwyne accounts before and he could see how his knowledge of that account could help his sweet stepsister. Cersei was a lawyer, and had a taste for high profile cases. It did put her in the limelight which he knew she liked. Tyrion had often wondered aloud how their dear sweet stepsister could have probably passed law school and bar exams, she was less brilliant than she thought herself to be (Tyrion though had expressed it in more palpable terms, clearly sharper and more crude that involved a cunt word). He had alluded it then to their lack of chemistry, (though the chemistry Jaime and their sister developed was something more than should have been) and ignored Tyrion's words, his references to Rhaegar, to the witless Kettlebacks and all other men whose names he had forgotten. He remembered what he told Brienne about his faithfulness and how she had reacted at that. He had wanted then to put his mouth against hers, test his own faithfulness (or whatever it is called, fear? Guilt? Lack of balls at allowing Cersei to lead him on like this?) and he felt the utmost regret at having stopped himself from kissing the big wench's mouth, and all other parts of her and if he ever would pledge his faith to the wench, he knew it would really be faith.
"Will you help me?" Her mouth was on his neck, and a hand deftly stroking his cock. Will he help her? He knew he would have, if she had asked this of him before, before everything, before the spatial distance between King's Landing and the Riverlands made him see what was there before his eyes. Had she been faithful as he was to her? He would have to ask Tyrion, though Tyrion had been missing for the better part of his life, leaving him alone to be blinded by the glitter in Cersei. Though not everything that glitters is gold. Cersei was not golden, he could see it now, the masking of everything underneath, cruel underneath all the glitter of gold, all pretentions masking her want to be him, to replace him. She had always been competitive though of course Tywin had always favoured him being that he was the man and she the woman and he had found it at first consuming how she would have wanted to always have him near her, believing it was love. Because if it was not love, what was it?
Tywin married again immediately after their mother died giving birth to Tyrion. When he saw Cersei for the first time, he immediately saw their physical likeness and how she resembled their late mother. Cersei's mother died in an accident some three years after the marriage with his father and Cersei had clung to him then. He believed it was love when she walked into his room one night and slipped into his bed, a bed was made to be shared she had said and kissed him and soon enough they were rutting like boars, exhilarated at the temporary freedom and solace such pleasure provided them. But Tywin wanted her to marry and though she was older than Jaime their father insisted she would not inherit a single penny if she doesn't marry someone of their standing, she was still an adopted child besides. She attended law school while he finished his MBA. Tyrion had told him once she fucked her way through law school, sleeping with professors and students alike. He had not believed of course, he was Cersei's as Cersei was his and though he sometimes wondered how there could probably be some truth in Tyrion's words (she was sometimes all talk, all airs, with nothing in her head to back it all up), Cersei's mouth convinced him of anything but.
"Will you Jaime?" She guided his cock to her entrance, fingers entwined and rubbing around the pulsing flesh and he groaned. Will he? The past year had allowed him plenty enough space to think and perhaps he needed more space and more time to assess everything. He had been thinking with the head in his pants not with the one on top of his shoulders all these years and perhaps he needed to take a step back and try to understand why, despite the shivering in his body, his mind was going back to the time when he slipped in the wench's bed and held her, just held her and he felt his own body sang then, a thousand times more exhilarating than the feel of Cersei's skin against his own. A sense of completion, as if he had not known he had been missing something his entire life, as if he had been living as an incomplete entity his entire life and finally found that missing something, whatever it is, in the big wench with blue eyes. But Cersei was supposed to make him whole hadn't she? He was reminded of all the times she had asked for his help with the use of her body, her mouth, her hands, and he knew that it was him making her whole and not the other way around, not the way Cersei informed him. It was she who needed him, who needed him to further her career. Why hadn't he seen it until now? Now that the distance between him and the wench had grown to such threatening degrees he was beginning to be afraid that it would engulf them and make them forget. Just forget.
"It's your case Cersei. Perhaps you should do your own research." His words were bitter in his mouth.
"Isn't this research?" He thought it was supposed to be a jest but Cersei never jested with him and it came out cruel and bitter and he eased himself away from her, cock stark red and hard and his own eyes swimming in something akin to anger.
"Is it? Is that all there is to this?" He zipped his pants, willing his arousal away.
"Why do you even ask me that Jaime?"
He looked away from her, bile rising in his throat. Perhaps, perhaps he should think everything through. He thought he understood everything, Cersei was everything besides, it was only now he was beginning to realize he hadn't known a single thing about everything, about her. Had she changed? Or was it him? Or was he too blinded to have seen this?
"You've changed brother." She slipped on her discarded dress and spat her words. "If you won't help me I'll find someone useful who will. Not some useless has-been like you."
He felt some sort of loosening in his chest when the words left her mouth. At least it came from her, at least he had heard it clear, words ringing in his ears and he felt some sort of peace with himself, some sense of affirmation that he was that to her. She would come around he knew, she would eventually need something again, she would not discard him that quickly. If she needed him more than that she would come to him. But he knew he was fooling himself. He was only seeing it clearly now, seeing as if he had never been able to see before. He never felt this sober in his entire life.
Tyrion came to him three weeks after he came to King's Landing. He was surprised to find him at the door to his office, forgetting to invite him in. When Tyrion mouthed some crude curses about not being invited after all, after all the trouble he went through just to make his way back to the capital, Jaime laughed, completely forgetting all those years of pain and hurt and quickly apologized for his attitude, invited his little brother inside and called someone to bring in coffee.
He inquired about his little brother's whereabouts and soon Tyrion was telling him of his exploits across the Narrow Sea, and in turn Jaime told him of his past year at the Riverlands. He did mention something about Brienne, dropped a word about how big, tall, strong and much of a damn goody-two-shoes she was. He did tell him she was the stiffest, most stubborn woman with the tersest choice of words he had ever met. He did not however say she has the bluest blue eyes he had ever seen.
"Cersei was fuming." Tyrion had settled on the couch and he was sitting across from him. It had been, how many, hours since they started talking and yet there were still too many things that needed to be said, too many things needed to be shared for a bridge that was burned to be made un-burnt.
Jaime scoffed, taking a sip of coffee. "Our sweet sister is always fuming."
"Did someone bonk you in the head dear brother?" Tyrion looked at him suspiciously, a glint in his mismatched eyes.
"Someone." He smiled with a tilt of his head.
"Took you long enough though. I had been telling you about our sweet sister's sleeping habits but you never listened."
Jaime nodded. "With whom?"
"With whom? That's a tough one." Tyrion arched a brow, a bite in his words, "The answer would have been easier if you asked me with whom she did not sleep with."
"Some names, I have to start with some names."
"The Kettlebacks. Of course you knew that."
He did. Though of course he had been blind to see everything.
Jaime stared at him incredulously. "Our cousin?"
Tyrion shrugged. "Currently Robert Baratheon. Though I heard she was going at it with the Redwynes when she was trying to get their case." He stood up, one hand in his pocket. He glanced at his watch. "Send my regards to your someone and thank her, I'm assuming it's a her brother, though I won't be discriminating if you had changed your preference without my knowing, but let me assume it's a her, so thank her for me, for putting some sense into you."
Jaime only smiled and opened the door for his brother. "See you around."
Tyrion gave him a wave, "See you around."
Jaime was jogging up Visenya's Hill on the morning of the first day of the second month since he assumed his post at King's Landing when an epiphany dawned on him. The sun was breaking into the horizon, scraps of light pushing through the clouds to flood his field of vision with a bright light. The thought was immediate, uncalled for but when he grasped it his heart raced to his throat, a dawning behind his eyes and his response was to dial the wench's number and call her. The sun was almost up by the time she finally spoke through the phone, a couple of rings seemed to be like a thousand as he waited and waited for her to break through the barriers of spatial distance and meet him in the middle, make a connection through flimsy invisible wires of technology. When she finally answered the call he felt relieved, her voice was hoarse and cranky and he knew he had woken her from sleep which would have earned him a blow to his gut had he been standing anywhere near her (which he wouldn't mind as long as he was standing anywhere near her). His only response was to laugh at her and laugh some more at her inability to form words, jests flowing from his mouth like water, fluid and he realized he had missed her. When he voiced out that particular thought she had fallen silent, and he could just picture the blush staining her cheeks, her freckles highlighted and her blue eyes widening at the sudden confession.
They talked for hours, the sun was already up and shining bright and hot when she ended the call, mentioning Sansa Stark and then he promised to call her later. And later he did call. And everyday since then.
They were debating about the merits of a breaststroke when Tyrion came barging in. "I'll call you later Brienne, Tyrion's here." Jaime did not fail to note the smile playing in the eyes of his little brother when he invited himself to sit on the chair in front of his desk, piles of paper between them. He had seen him thrice after he came some four months ago and Jaime welcomed every moment when he did.
"Was that your someone? Please. You didn't have to stop."
Jaime tried to ignore the suggestion ripe in his brother's mouth. "What brings you here little brother?"
His brother made a grand sweep of his surroundings, a dramatic shrugging of his shoulders before he finally said, "I want to invite you to my engagement party."
Jaime had read the papers of course and he knew Tyrion was getting married but he was surprised to find him inviting him after all the bad words said between them. Not that he doesn't want to, he was just pleasantly shocked that Tyrion would include him.
"Though you should bring a plus one."
He furrowed his brows.
"You know," Tyrion looked him straight in the eye, "A date. A woman."
"I don't have any woman in my life now." Which is true, seeing that Cersei had ended whatever it was between them months ago. Though surely, if he thought about it, it can be said that everything had ended more than a year ago when he left. Or it could be that there was nothing after all, since apparently Cersei had never returned the same intensity of feelings, she had never been in it for the same reasons besides.
"Brienne is a woman. You did say she is."
"She is." Jaime couldn't help the slight smile on his lips.
"Then date her."
Tyrion only laughed. "I mean take her to the engagement party."
Jaime knew there was something more behind his words but he only laughed and told him he would ask Brienne, though she was far at the Vale and he does not know if she could spare some time to fly to the capital. But Jaime perfectly understood what lay behind Tyrion's spoken words yet he was a little afraid of admitting that he understood, that he knew, because this was Brienne they were talking about and he was not so certain it was that kind of relationship he wanted to have with her, she was so good besides, though, he wouldn't really mind (he realized suddenly as he thought about it) if she agreed to a similar arrangement. A date would be the perfect amendment to their otherwise rambunctious beginning. He could just see the frown in her face. He almost laughed to himself.
Tyrion left immediately, urging him to call his plus one and continue whatever it was they were talking about, "I wouldn't want to disrupt you from your wooing," he said as he made his way to the door, chuckling his way through the corridors as Jaime stood up to see him out. "She tolerates you, it seems," Tyrion called out as he stepped into the elevator, "You wouldn't find any other woman like that."
He called Brienne immediately to inform him of Tyrion's invite. As he had expected, she did decline and told him she wouldn't be able to leave, though she would try she said and would inform him about it if she could take a leave. "Besides, I want to see you." The words were out of his mouth quicker than he had anticipated and he almost grimaced at the possible ramifications. He was beginning to act like a lovesick fool, because he was not lovesick, he was not in love anyway. Love is such a big word, a deep word, a thorny word. Hadn't he described what he and Cersei had as love? If that was love then he would not want to be in love with Brienne. He would want it to be something else.
"I will make time."
She would, his mind told him and he almost made a little happy dance in his head at the promise and told himself this was not love, this was something beyond love. This was beyond the frissons of lust he felt at the Maidenpool, nor the separation anxiety in his stomach at Duskendale. This was not the anger and the desire and the camaraderie and the understanding he felt in Harrenhal. This was not the envy and insecurity he felt at the Riverlands. This was all that but beyond that. This was not love.
A total of six months have passed before Cersei sent him a message again. Come Jaime. I need you. He was sitting then in his office, checking transactions between Baelish and the Arryns when Cersei's message came. It seemed to burn as he read it, and reread it, weighing decisions in his head. He heard she lost the Redwyne case but that she filed an appeal and he was sure she was asking him to come once more to urge him to give her the files she had asked for before.
He turned off his phone, afraid that he would follow her again if he read her message for a third time. He had chosen to ignore her looming presence in the days that followed since Cersei, in crude words, ended their relationship though he was sometimes unsuccessful given the media hype around the Redwyne case and Cersei's beautiful face was all over the news. He turned his phone on, read the message a third time and finally deleted it, breathing a sigh of relief as he eradicated that piece of presence of hers trying to creep back into his everyday routine.
His phone buzzed however again and he felt that nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach, worried it was Cersei again with her pleas and demands. The worry, however, was quickly replaced by that sudden twisting of knots he associated with excitement (and lust) as he scrolled down to find out who it was. He immediately tensed and stood up, grabbed his coat and car keys and called for Ilyn Payne to cancel all meetings scheduled in the afternoon and take note of all important calls and tell Tyrion (if he dropped by) that he would see him the day after and instructed Ilyn to inform Tyrion verbatim that something came up, something really really important, someone.
Hello Jaime. I'm at the King's Airport. –Brienne